Science

NOAA Boulder Research Finds Resurgence In Banned Ozone-Depleting Chemical

NOAA Boulder Research Finds Resurgence In Banned Ozone-Depleting Chemical”

"We show that the rate of decline of atmospheric CFC-11 was constant from 2002 to 2012, and then slowed by about 50 percent after 2012", an global team of scientists concluded in a study. The Guardian reports that if these emissions are left unchecked, it could tack an extra decade onto restoration of the all-important ozone layer, which protects the earth from the sun's damaging UV radiation. This conclusion was confirmed by other changes recorded in NOAA's measurements during the same period, such as a widening difference between CFC-11 concentrations in the northern and southern hemispheres - evidence that the new source was somewhere north of the equator.

Trichlorofluoromethane, or CFC-11, is the second-most abundant ozone-depleting gas in the atmosphere and a member of the family of chemicals most responsible for the giant hole in the ozone layer that forms over Antarctica each September.

But Mr. Doniger noted that the Montreal Protocol, which has been signed by almost 200 countries, has a strong track record of compliance, with countries often reporting their own violations.

"It's the most surprising and unexpected observation I've made in my 27 years" of measurements, said study lead author Stephen Montzka, a research chemist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "I was just shocked by it".

If the source of these new emissions can be identified and controlled soon, the damage to the ozone layer should be minor, Montzka said. "When things go awry, we raise a flag". "It's therefore critical that we identify the precise causes of these emissions and take the necessary action".

Staff at the South Pole get ready to release a balloon that will carry an ozone instrument up to 20 miles in the atmosphere, measuring ozone levels all along the. "But we don't know of any folks who are destroying buildings at a much more dramatic rate than they were before", said Montzka.

Either someone's making the banned compound or it's sloppy byproducts that haven't been reported as required, Montzka said.

The ozone layer is slowly recovering, and ozone-depleting substances are still declining. "If it doesn't go away, there could be a 10-year delay, and if it continued to increase, the delay would be even longer".

Thirty years or more ago CFC11 (R11) was commonly used as a refrigerant and insulation propellant.

"This treaty can not afford not to follow its tradition and keep its compliance record", he said. Prof Piers Forster, at the University of Leeds, UK, said: "This new study is atmospheric detective work at its finest".

The increase in emission of CFC-11 appears unrelated to past production; this suggests unreported new production, which is inconsistent with the Montreal Protocol agreement to phase out global CFC production by 2010.

David Fahey, director of NOAA " s Chemical Science Division and co-chair of the United Nations Environment Programme's Ozone Secretariat 's Science Advisory Panel, said ongoing monitoring of the atmosphere will be key to ensuring that the goal of restoring the ozone layer is achieved. "I have a feeling that we will find out fairly quickly what exactly is going on and that the situation will be remedied", he said.



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